Compassion In Action

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Scotlund's Blog

Breaking the Chains of Suffering

Late Thanksgiving night, local authorities in Cheatham County, Tennessee uncovered what is believed to be the largest dog fighting rescue operation in the state’s history. Responding to a call for help, Animal Rescue Corps was on the ground in Tennessee cutting the chains of 60 dogs in less than 18 hours after receiving the call for assistance. That day, in a rescue we dubbed Operation Broken Chain, we made the commitment to these dogs that their suffering had ended and that they would have the opportunity for a new life, but for many others the hidden suffering continues.

Dog fighting, a serious problem in both urban and rural areas across the U.S. and throughout the world, is a felony offense at a federal level and in all 50 states. This cruel and sadistic activity pits dogs against each other in one of the most barbaric forms of entertainment and gambling. As two dogs, usually American Pit Bull Terriers or Staffordshire Bull Terriers, are unleashed upon one another the spectators root for the dog they have gambled on while watching both dogs receive critical and often fatal wounds.

During fights, dogs suffer ripped flesh, broken bones, and punctured lungs. Death from blood loss, shock, dehydration, infection, and exhaustion is common and can even happen days after a fight. If the losing dog does not die in the fight, his owner is likely to kill him by shooting, beating, hanging, drowning, or electrocution. The dog fighter’s motto is “breed the best and bury the rest”.

The victimization these dogs endure is not limited to the fighting ring. Their entire tortured lives are spent in horrific conditions. Their most basic needs of adequate food, water, shelter, and companionship are often not met. They are kept outdoors on thick, heavy logging or tow chains that usually weigh as much as three times the body weight of the dog. The only time they are removed from the chain is to fight or endure agonizing conditioning and training regimens. Those designated as bait dogs or breeder dogs will often have all of their teeth hammered out or filed down. The breeding process itself is very cruel, utilizing “rape stands” to bind females so they can be forcibly bred.

Because dog fighting is an underground activity it is difficult to determine how many dog fighting operations there are in the U.S. However, based on reports of dog fighting and evidence found on local and state levels, it is estimated that there are tens of thousands of organized dog fighters and hundreds of thousands of street dog fighters. It is also estimated that tens of thousands of dogs die every year as a result of dog fighting. These animals, whose loyal nature is manipulated for human gain, suffer in every aspect of their lives as they are bred, conditioned, and trained to fight.

Every ARC rescue operation has the common thread of great suffering but we never truly know what to expect until we are on the ground. The Operation Broken Chain dogs had long been suffering at the ends of their chains, some of them so physically broken they could barely even bring themselves to lift their heads to greet their rescuers.

As we walked onto the property, through the chilling morning haze, our team met the imploring eyes of 60 dogs without clean water and starving for food, warmth, and attention. Most were burdened with heavy, 3-inch thick tow chains, with only chemical barrels and dilapidated wooden boxes intended as dog houses — this was the only life they had ever known. Many were emaciated and sick, others are literally scarred for life, while the remains of those who lost the battle were strewn throughout the property. The images of suffering our team witnessed were grim and for some of us, unbearable. I continue to lose sleep over the haunting site of a single noose dangling from a tree and three fresh burn piles with the remains of several dogs nearby. While the ghosts of the dogs we were too late for will remain with me for the rest of my life, we must focus on the living and those that we can collectively help and offer a chance at new life.

Over the past two weeks ARC’s team of amazing volunteers have been providing the Operation Broken Chain dogs with the care, compassion, and respect they have never known. Medical exams are complete and treatments are ongoing. Each dog has received vaccinations, a heart worm test, de-wormer, and topical flea treatment. We have also completed sterilizations for most of the dogs. Behavior assessments have been conducted and training, socialization, and enrichment programs have been put in place to meet their individual needs. Many have already been placed in foster homes, and we continue to identify placement partners through out North America who are prepared to offer these dogs the next steps in their rehabilitation process and provide them with the opportunity of enjoying a loving and responsible home.

As I walk through our emergency shelter at the end of every day, I feel an overwhelming sense of relief that this dog fighting operation has been eradicated — forever ending the cruel cycle of abuse for these dogs. By shutting down this operation we have collectively saved untold generations of fighting dogs, the pain and misery of being bred only to quench the blood lust of those involved in this hideous industry. Joy and relief wash over our exhausted team of volunteers as they witness the comforting sight of these dogs reclaiming the lives that were stolen from them. Knowing that without the intervention of many compassionate individuals these animals would have faced a future of untold horrors is our ultimate reward.

During this holiday season, please join ARC as we celebrate the lives of these 60 dogs and the hundreds more animals that we have liberated this year from the clutches of cruel individuals and the industries that profit from suffering.

Please watch in the coming weeks for us to share a comprehensive video documenting this rescue and the journey to a new life that is beginning for the dogs of Operation Broken Chain. If you haven’t already, please watch the short on scene video of this rescue by clicking here.  Thank you.

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8 responses to “Breaking the Chains of Suffering”

  1. Thank you foe caring for these innocent pups .The law needs to be harder on these sub human people, they need to be suffering in a place and treated like they treat these dogs.This is why pits have been baned in so many states, they are very loyal and loving, thx for saving them, now they need loving homes.

  2. Has there been any progress made in identifying the people that owned the property and were responsible for this dog fighting operation? They must be caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, or they will just be left free to repeat this somewhere else, and more dogs will suffer. Thank you for ALL you have done. It breaks my heart reading about this, but I am trying desperately hard to look at the positive side of things for those dogs rescued.

  3. Denise Hughes says:

    While I wholeheartedly congratulate ARC on this rescue operation, I would like to comment that what needs to be done is to criticise publicly, criminalise, and condemn thoroughly those people who go to the dog fights, placing bets on the lives of these poor dogs. If it were not for the blood thirsty audience, those that breed and keep dogs for fighting would have no reason to exist. In the same way as we criticise pet shops selling “puppy mill” animals and encourage people not to buy these puppies, we should be recriminating the heartless souls that attend dog fights and also make a great deal of noise about how morally wrong that is.

    As with the puppy mills, these places exist because there is a demand. Let us make every effort to eliminate that demand.

  4. Lisa says:

    This is wonderful and a great step. I hear in South Carolina this is a way of life in the rural areas. I hope someone will get in there and stop this from happening as well.

  5. These poor animals, I hope that the evil b******s that do this kind of thing have nothing but bad Karma – Thank you all for having such great hearts.

  6. Todd says:

    Is there any update? I saw a story on the news (Channel 5) last night and they said 70 dogs were rescued from this horrible situation. They did not say anything about fostering or how to help. They did not mention how many dogs are left at the emergency shelter. They did not even say if they have a suspect in the case.

    Thank you for the work you do.

  7. Janice says:

    And Michael V gets to go back to his life of making millions, which is so disgusting. football fan seems to have forgotten what he did to all those dogs. he should never have been allowed to be back in the NFL!

  8. john639 says:

    Geez! I continue to be shocked at the depravity of humans inflicting their desire to torture on innocent animals.

    Thank god for animal rescue!

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